Worldwide—Digital Frontiers

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2017-2023

Region: Worldwide

Country: Global

Solutions: Digital Acceleration

Across the developing world, digital technologies are accelerating change at every level of society—from mobile solutions that serve rural women’s savings groups in Tanzania to data-driven decision-making tools for natural resource planning in Honduras. The challenge is that, to date, these solutions have not matched the pace and scale of the problems they address.

Digital Frontiers is a $74.4 million buy-in mechanism available to bureaus and missions of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). We work closely with USAID’s Global Development Lab (GDL), the Center for Digital Development (CDD), USAID Missions, the private sector, and international and local development organizations to identify successful and sustainable digital development approaches and scale their impact globally.

Digital Frontiers helps USAID have greater impact across its development portfolio by advancing digital tools and approaches in the areas of digital finance, digital inclusion, ICT for development, geospatial, and digital knowledge and insights.

CABI photo 2.JPGPhoto credit: CABI for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize.

Sample Activities

  • Assess a USAID Mission or Bureau’s current programs and make recommendations for how they can better leverage digital tools or approaches to improve development impact.
  • Design and implement digital programs, including anything from providing strategic support on a Country Development Cooperation Strategy to implementing a smallholder farmer targeted mobile money project.
  • Promote best practices in the digital development field and help build the capacity of USAID staff to leverage digital approaches for development.

Select Results

  • Implemented several activities for the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP) by working with USAID partner countries to support the development of communications infrastructure; promote transparent regulatory policies for open, competitive markets; and build partners’ cybersecurity capacity to address shared threats through engagement with the private sector, government, and civil society.
  • Launched three rounds of the W-GDP WomenConnect Challenge, which was established to identify and accelerate comprehensive solutions that empower women and girls to access and use digital technology to drive positive health, education, and livelihoods outcomes for themselves and their families.
  • Conducted digital agriculture assessments in Burkina Faso and Niger and developed recommendations for how USAID can take advantage of digital tools and services to increase the reach and impact of their food security and resilience activities.
  • Implemented the Feed the Future Fall Armyworm Tech Prize, supporting the development of digital tools to combat the spread of the fall armyworm agricultural pest in sub-Saharan Africa. Digital Frontiers received 283 applications of which 88 percent were from African applicants and awarded $450,000 to six winners working with smallholder farmers in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.
  • Assisted in the development of USAID’s “How To: Create Digital ID for Inclusive Development” guide.
  • Provided strategic support to USAID in Cambodia in creating a real-time data for adaptive management platform to improve the use of data to make evidence-based, timely, and inclusive programmatic decisions.
  • Won a 2022 USAID Digi Award for educating and training businesses and individuals, especially young people, on digital safety and cybersecurity best practices in Southeast Asia and Mongolia.


Regional—Critical Infrastructure Digitalization and Resilience (CIDR)

The Critical Infrastructure Digitalization and Resilience program assists partner governments and in-country organizations to work with key stakeholders and experts to assess cybersecurity gaps and priorities, make recommendations, and map courses of action to improve the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure and key institutions.

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